The Australian – February 24, 2024

Di Bella tells cafe owners to wake up and smell the coffee

12:00AM FEBRUARY 24, 2024

Coffee tsar Phil Di Bella is on a mission to save the local independent cafe.

The founder of the Di Bella Coffee brand and now boss of The Coffee Commune says the number of cafes in Queensland exceeds what they were post-pandemic as people seek to be their own boss or pursue a dream to open their own business.

But Di Bella says that unfortunately the number of customers aren’t rising at the same pace. Research by the Coffee Commune found that nationwide there were 142,000 employees working in just over 26,000 cafes, of which there are about 5000 outlets in Queensland.

Di Bella says the number of cafes dipped during the pandemic to about 20,000, but has rebounded quickly over the past year.

“However, customers are yet to join in this resurgence,” he says. “Analysts expect the path out of Covid-19 to be cautious, exacerbated by increased cost-of-living pressures slowing the return of customers.”

Phil Di Bella says cafes facing tough times.

Phil Di Bella says cafes facing tough times.

Di Bella says people are motivated to open a cafe because they want to become their own boss, enjoy meeting people or keep a family tradition going. But often a lack of preparation, lack of a “brand” or poor location results in the cafe struggling.

He says the keys to success include cultivating brand loyalty, reaching new customers and reducing the time spent running the cafe so owners can focus on improving business skills.

Di Bella points out that about 70 per cent of small businesses do not have a formal marketing plan.  He says the research found that the real risks to small business included labour and material costs, failure to attract customers and availability of skills and staffing.

The Coffee Commune is holding a series of master classes covering marketing and training over the next couple of months.

Revive Financial head of business restructuring and insolvency Jarvis Archer says a high level of insolvency among retail and hospitality businesses was expected for at least the first half of 2024.



Being partnered with the Coffee Commune was a logical extension of our business. It is a great opportunity to showcase our equipment range, however, we also see the immense value to the industry of being part of the Coffee Commune’s exceptional training facilities
Fabio Cordovado Director CWE
Labour laws are more and more complex and hard to understand; Through our membership with Coffee Commune, we have constant access to a HR/IR hotline. Quick and Easy.
Phil Johnson Founder and owner Chef
Ecco Bistro
Coffee Commune’s advice, support, and network, helped reduce the red tape, gave us direction, and saved us valuable time.
Sarah Buiso Restaurant Owner of Da Buiso
…if our clients grow, we grow. The Coffee Commune has been invaluable in helping us spread that message.
Vince Monardo Naked Syrups
We are passionate about collaborating with the coffee community to make a real difference for business owners. We look forward to continuing to work with The Coffee Commune.
Matt Allington Partner, Business Services
BDO (Australia)
…we’re passionate about helping businesses identify the things they can be doing to maximise performance.
Alessandro Calabrisello General Manager
Sanremo Coffee Machines Australia